The traditional definition of being a woman may often be associated with ideas of femininity, maternity, and childbirth. Societal standards today have closely associated the idea of being a woman to unrealistic physical standards as well as unhealthy competition between the female species. However, I believe that being a “woman” encompasses much more than these elementary factors. Being a woman is a mindset and an attitude. It is a kind of deep rooted passion for greatness, manifested through kindness, care, and protection. Humanity stems from the sacrifices women have made- and we are what inspires greatness. That’s why it bothers me, pains me deeply in fact- when the world sees us simply as a walking pair of boobs.
I distinctly remember a conversation I overheard between two guys one night while waiting for a ride. And surprise, surprise- they were talking about girls. If I remember correctly, the conversation between the two high school boys went something like this: (Note: Their names have been altered)
Tom: Hey so I heard you’re dating Amber. Nice job man- she’s, like, really hot.
Jason: Haha thanks man. I’m really glad, because the girls at my school all suck. Like, are there no hot girls anywhere?
Tom: I hear you man. The girls at my school suck too. The only girls that are hot are like…
He then proceeded to list off the names of a bunch of girls casually, similar to the way one would list off their groceries or some household objects.
Honestly, I’m sure that conversations like this are very normal, and I can’t even say it was that bad, because they weren’t exactly being explicitly degrading to women. However, I did realize two things after this particular experience.
Firstly, I was really bothered that these people were equating a girl’s value and worth to her “hotness.” It really made me wonder what made a person “hot” anyway. Does it simply come down to whether a girl has nice curves and a pretty face? Or is it more than that? Can being “hot” also involve being smart, caring, and talented?
The second thing I realized was that I’m sure any of the girls on Tom’s “hot list” would have been flattered, even thrilled, to know that they were on the list. I know I sure would. And that was what struck me the most; I despised the fact that I felt like I needed approval for something I didn’t even care about.
So, the question came down to this: Why do we even care if people think we’re hot, anyways?
The answer is simple. As human beings, we all seek approval. We want to be liked by others, to be labelled as something we think is good. However, maybe it’s not so important that we have to look a certain way, or fit a certain definition, especially if that definition is created by someone else.
Case in point, it is time for us to settle for being more than just “hot.” It is time to stop holding one another to these trivial yet impossible standards of beauty but rather push one another to become better. The world we live in creates a very specific standard of beauty- a standard that is physical and constantly changing. We live in a world of confinement, a world of boundaries that are often hard to break. And especially for women, this stigma can be something that is very hard to overcome. However cliche it may sound, beauty does truly go far beyond one’s physical appearances. There is no such thing as someone who cannot be beautiful, because beauty is something that is developed over time. Beauty is a reflection of character and integrity combined with the utmost characteristics of grace and poise. Beauty is about being someone who spreads light and joy, someone who touches the lives of others in amazing ways. A beautiful woman is an empowered woman. Someone who lives life with a zest and walks with a bounce to her step, someone who is kind and gentle, but also pursues her dreams with vigor and stops at nothing to get work done.
There are many things that I’m insecure about. For one, I’ve always hated my nose. I just hated the way it looked and constantly wished I could change it. I also sometimes wish I was taller, or that I had better skin. These are insecurities I’m sure we all struggle with to some extent, and I can say that I struggle with them almost daily. But I am constantly looking for ways to overcome these insecurities. I’ve learned to appreciate my nose, because it gives me great personality. I’ve learned not to covet the “perfect” looks of airbrushed supermodels but rather to be comfortable in my own skin. That is how I empower myself. By living and enjoying my life, and celebrating my body, because I am grateful that God has blessed me with them.
When it comes down to it, empowerment begins with us. It begins with not whispering to your friend about that girl’s crooked teeth or her “fake” highlights. It begins with saying to that girl scrutinizing herself in the bathroom mirror- “You look beautiful today.” It begins with telling a young girl that “you don’t need copious amounts of makeup or designer brand clothing to look beautiful.” If you are reading this, you should know that we are all living in this world together. The way I see it, you can either see people as your teammates or your competitors. Personally, I prefer to see others as teammates- give them the benefit of the doubt. So let’s show our fellow teammates how valuable they are. How each of us have been specifically created and designed for a purpose, and let’s not let our pride or insecurity get in the way of empathy for our fellow humans. Because sometimes, in order to fulfill a greater purpose, we need to think beyond ourselves.